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Andrew Agbaje.

Andrew Agbaje wins prestigious EASO-Novo Nordisk Foundation New Investigator Award in Childhood Obesity

Physician and Paediatric Clinical Epidemiologist Andrew Agbaje of the University of Eastern Finland has been recognised with the New Investigator Award in Childhood Obesity by the European Association for the Study of Obesity, EASO, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The award includes a research grant of 300,000 Danish Kroner, i.e., approximately 40,000 euros. 

Andrew Agbaje received the award for discovering arterial stiffness as a novel risk factor for paediatric obesity and insulin resistance, identifying adolescence as the critical time to interrupt fat mass-insulin resistance pathologic cycle, and demonstrating light-intensity physical activity as a highly effective antidote for reversing excessive fat deposit induced by childhood sedentariness.

Obesity is a complex chronic disease that impacts health and can lead to increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Obesity is responsible for an estimated five million deaths worldwide each year. In the adult population, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled since 1990, and more than quadrupled in children and adolescents since 1990. Currently, more than 890 million adults, and more than 160 million children, are living with obesity.

“This is an unprecedented recognition of our effort to improve the understanding and prevention of cardiometabolic diseases in children and adolescents. I am grateful to EASO, a federation of 36 European countries’ professional associations, and the Novo-Nordisk Foundation for this award,” says Agbaje.

“More importantly, we have recently discovered that waist-to-height ratio is an inexpensive alternative for screening, detecting, and diagnosing childhood obesity that could replace body mass index (BMI). BMI fails to distinguish fat mass from muscle mass and has misclassified children as overweight or obese even, when children are within normal range of fat mass,” Agbaje says. 

Last week, Agbaje gave an interview to EASO, proposing a new obesity cut point that could be adopted in policy statements and guidelines in Europe for diagnosing childhood obesity based on waist-to-height ratio.

Suggested waist-to-height ratio categories to detect fat obesity from childhood until adulthood.
The waist-to-height ratio measures specifically fat mass.